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Americans continue to buy less gasoline

U.S. fuel demand in November dropped, pulled lower by a decline in gasoline consumption, the American Petroleum Institute said.

Total deliveries of petroleum products, a measure of demand, declined 1.1% to 18.8 million barrels a day last month from a year earlier, the industry-funded group said today in a report. Year-to-date consumption has averaged 19 million barrels a day, down 0.7% from the same period in 2010.

Gasoline demand dropped 1.8% to 8.65 million barrels a day last month compared with the same month in 2010. It was the lowest level of November consumption for the motor fuel since 2000, according to the report.

“Flagging gasoline demand suggests the consumer sector of the economy is still treading water,” John Felmy, chief economist with the Washington-based API, said in the report. “The distillate numbers show the industrial sector is faring better.”

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Consumption of distillate fuels, a category that includes diesel and heating oil, rose 4.3% to 4.04 million barrels a day in November, the highest level for the month since 2007.

Demand for ultra-low sulfur diesel, the type used on highways, climbed 7.9% to average 3.66 million barrels a day, the report showed. Heating-oil use dropped 21% to 380,000 barrels a day.

Jet-fuel use climbed 7.5% to an average 1.5 million barrels a day last month compared with the same period in 2010.

Demand for residual fuels plunged 57% to 240,000 barrels a day in November from a year earlier, the report showed. Residual fuel is used for commercial and industrial heating, electricity generation and ship propulsion.

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U.S. crude-oil production fell 2.1% to an average 5.43 million barrels a day in November, the department said. Output in the lower 48 states declined 2.8 percent to 4.81 million barrels a day. Alaskan production increased 3.1% to 625,000 barrels a day.


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